Sugar my Tea?: My sister on Roger Whittaker’s putridity

May 30, 2009

I was searching through newspaper archives today when I found a hidden gem written by my sister Carmen in 1996. I thought it should be resurrected, and what better place than my website?

A little background: my sister was responding to a letter to the Calgary Herald editor about Nine Inch Nails, aka Trent Reznor. The letter, entitled “Alternative Filth,” was penned by a concerned mother of impressionable youths, who inadvertently read the lyrics from the CD collection of her children. My sister rather liked our friend Trent.

Young and sarcastic (with time on her hands), Carmen wrote a brilliant, scathing parody suggesting that there is much more to Roger Whittaker’s lyrics than his avuncular whistles and whimsy suggests (e.g. youtube video below).

Mom was appalled. Confused elderly people called our house, explaining to Carmen that they always thought Roger Whittaker was above reproach.

Re “Alternative filth,” Herald Letters, March 22.

Recently, my 49-year-old father purchased his first cassette tape called Songs of Love and Life by Roger Whittaker. After listening to the first track, Flip Flap, I was compelled to read the horrific lyrics cryptically enclosed. I had no choice but to immediately smash and burn my father’s entire collection of cassettes, not to mention his eight-track cassette player.

Why are adults permitted to purchase such filth? How can a father, whose ideals and morals shape those of his malleable children, have access to music — and I use the term loosely — that transcends the boundaries of musical taste in its nauseating sentimentality. The song Sugar My Tea, for example, has shocking implications when taken out of context, and the blasphemous song “Swaggy” needs no further explanation.

I delivered the charred remains of this abomination to the music store’s manager, who shook his head in disgust and pity, then wept. My mother tells me that there are others who listen to this detestable putridity. I cannot understand what our society has come to.

Carmen Wittmeier , Calgary.



  1. How do you get from Nine Inch Nails, aka Trent Reznor to Roger Whittaker. And just what does she find objectionable about his music? I’ve listened to and enjoyed a lot of it without hearing anything improper.
    What I find truly appalling are you sister’s assumption that she has the right to pass judgment on another adult’s choices, and vandalize his property because SHE didn’t like it.
    And what possible excuse could she offer for destroying his eight-track cassette player!?
    New World in the Morning is beautiful, uplifting and thought provoking.
    And thanks for tipping me off to Swaggy, which is a lovely piece of whistling, with no lyrics.
    I have to conclude that if your sister) finds anything FILTHY in Roger Whittaker’s music, it is because she has a FILTHY mind.
    To the pure, all things are pure.

  2. By the way, parts of the Bible (look at the Song of Solomon) have shocking implications when taken out of context.
    Ready to start burning Bibles?
    Or could you learn to simply not take things out of context?

  3. She didn’t really do anything to my dad’s tapes. And she picked on Roger Whittaker precisely because he is the epitome of propriety (i.e. it was a joke).

  4. I’m a little slow on the uptake, but I did eventually guess that had to be what was going on. My only excuse for popping of like that is that I don’t know her at all, and didn’t recognize it as a joke.
    But truth is stranger than fiction, and people can be the strangest of all. And he who laughs last was slowest to get the joke. NOW i’m laughing (and blushing)!

  5. As the sister, I will now speak. The letter was a joke. I was tired of listening to adults critique my music “out of context.” Now that I am a parent, however, I have a different perspective entirely, and Trent Reznor isn’t exactly the role model I would choose for my children. That said, I will worry about their mental health if they enjoy Roger Whittaker.

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